In ‘Tough’ Visit, Pence Uses Crisis He Helped Create To Push Immigration Overhaul

Vice President Mike Pence speaks following his tour of the U.S. Navy Hospital Ship USNS Comfort on June 18, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images)
July 13, 2019 10:27 a.m.

During a visit two migrant detention centers in Texas on Friday, Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged how “tough” conditions were in one of the facilities and even offered that “no,” conditions were not acceptable.

But he used the inhumane imagery of more than 400 adult men shoved behind caged fences, in a facility reportedly reeking with body odor, to highlight the Trump administration’s goal of stopping the flow of migrant families illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Upon entering the single adult detention center, Pence appeared to scrunch his nose at the smell, looked around the facility for a few moments and then left, according to the White House press pool report.

Here’s footage of Pence watching the men behind a cage.

“I was not surprised by what I saw. … I knew we’d see a system that was overwhelmed,” Pence later told reporters, according to the Washington Post. “This is tough stuff.”

When CNN asked whether the conditions at the single adult center were acceptable, Pence was candid.

“No, it’s not. That’s the reason why we demanded that Congress provide $4.6 billion in additional support to Customs and Border Protection,” Pence told CNN. “The McAllen station, where our cells are overflowing … ought to be a very clear message to every American that the time for action is now and the time for Congress to act to end the flow of families that are coming north from Central America to our border is now.”

But his administration’s zero tolerance policy helped create the humanitarian crisis at the border that the Vice President and the Trump administration is now using to push more hardline policies that scale back the asylum program and close legal immigration loopholes.

Pence later bashed CNN for its coverage of the visit, arguing the network only aired footage of the poor conditions at the adult detention center and ignored the reportedly cleaner facilities holding women and children.

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